April 19, 2006

  • Hat Tip to Plumtree, who found what has to be the most, well, memorable obituary I've read to date:

    Dykes, Elsa Chambers

    DYKES, ELSA CHAMBERS - age 96 of Alcoa, died at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday,
    February 28, 2006 at Transitional Care Center, Maryville, of liver
    cancer, the symptoms of which arose about six weeks prior. Her husband,
    Boone Dykes, son of Rev. James Robert Dykes and Margaret Orleans
    Creswell Dykes, died in 1965. She was the third child (of 11) born to
    James Phillip Chambers and Zora Melvina Collins in a house at Chambers
    Creek, in Swain County, North Carolina, built by her father-"after the
    barn was built." A spring branch rose behind the house and ran through
    the yard. Social life on Chambers Creek consisted of going to the
    Baptist Church and to baptizings. (In the creek, usually where it
    flowed into the Little Tennessee River.) She and her slightly older
    sister, Ethel, decided to baptize their mother's chickens in the spring
    branch. "We baptized all we could catch," she said. "Once was usually
    enough. They learned to run from us." She said that if you lived on
    Chambers Creek and weren't Baptist, you were considered "quare-turned."
    She said, "The Kirkland cousins moved up from Bryson City and they were
    Methodists." Parents entertained children. Her mother sang Celtic
    laments of death and heartbreak, blood and treachery. "Dad," she said,
    "was more for the silly, funny, songs." The first trip she remembered
    was standing with her siblings, on a rock sled built by her father,
    drawn by oxen he had broken to harness, going to Bushnell, or perhaps
    Bryson City. Her last memorable trip (other than going to North
    Carolina to see new great-grandchildren) was a board a jet with her
    younger sister, Marian and her husband, Charles Harrison, and fly to
    Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver, B.C., and take a cruise ship to
    Alaska. She was about 90. Every child in her Chambers Creek School
    (which was also a church, community club, funeral parlor and social
    center) was a cousin. Her father said, "I'll not have my children
    marrying their cousins, and they are going to go to college. They moved
    across the mountain to Blount County in 1918. None married a cousin and
    all, except the two who died young, went to college. James Chambers was
    a drover for the herds of cattle brought from the North Carolina
    Mountains to the railhead in Tennessee. He, and others, would stay
    overnight at the home of a cousin, Becky Cable, in Cades Cove, on the
    drive. In Maryville he took a nickel and went to a moving picture show.
    "He came home quite impressed," his daughter said. Later, like his
    in-law, Rev. Bob Dykes, he decided moving pictures were not
    Baptist-kosher. But he did contest to see "Gone With The Wind." Zora
    Collins Chambers' grandfather, Alfred Cline, served in the Civil War in
    the Thomas Indian Brigade and was assassinated on his front porch when
    he returned. Probably one of the red-headed Kirkland cousins, some of
    whom spent the war year at home, robbing, pillaging, burning barns and
    stealing cattle and grain. (Much of it Alfred Cline's, a preemptive
    strike, as it were.) When they came to Tennessee they went first to
    Harry Proffitt's farm where the airport is now sited. They wound up at
    the ALCOA farm on McArthur Road. Elsa went to Everett High School where
    she played basketball and, at 16, began a not always smooth courtship
    with Boone Dykes. They married when they were 23. They went to Townsend
    where Boone's oldest sister, Miss Flo Dew, was a railroad executive and
    ran the hotel for Little River Lumber Co. (She was married to an
    engineer, Woody Dew, who she fired at least once.) Boone and Elsa had a
    son, James Robert in 1933, and a daughter, Eleanor Flo, in 1935. Elsa
    boarded during the week in Dry Valley with the Dunns (in-laws) and
    taught at the one-room Red Bank School-mostly little Shulers, Efflers,
    Skidmores, and Sullivans. She would ride in from Townsend on Monday
    morning with Jake Farmer, dairyman, and ride back Friday afternoons in
    the A-Model coupe with her husband and two children. Sometimes she took
    her three-to-four year-old son who could be induced to sing for the
    older children (with a perfect ear for volume and somewhat dubious
    harmonics.) Later in the 30's she moved to Townsend Elementary School.
    In 1944 they moved to Alcoa where she taught over 30 years at
    Springbrook and her husband worked for ALCOA. She was a member of Alcoa
    First Baptist Church but stopped attending when, several years ago, the
    Southern Baptist Association set about purging "moderate" preachers and
    professors, decided the Bible was absolutely inerrant, that the head of
    the SBA was more infallible than the Pope, and decided the Baptist
    women would be much better Christians if they sat down, shut up, and
    obeyed their husbands. Her conduct, her diet, and her religion were
    austere to the point of being ascetic. She was thoroughly conventional
    and a strict enforcer of the rules--many of which she made up as she
    went along. She was preceded in death by siblings; Oscar, Ethel
    (Holloway), Viola (Herrick), Vega (Burns), Arnold, Rena (Swift), Ivan,
    Mary Evelyn (who died as an infant and Norman (who died at 20.) Her
    daughter, Eleanor Flo, died in 1996. She leaves her son, Jim Dykes,
    Rockford, and youngest sister, Marian Harrison, Maryville. She was 18
    and a senior at Everett when her youngest sister was born. "We all took
    care of the babies and Marian was mine," Elsa said. Marian wept
    bitterly when Elsa married Boone Dykes. "I knew I was losing my
    'mama,'" she said. Boone and Elsa "ran off" to Clinton to marry,
    attended by his sister, Georgia, and her husband, Barney Ballard. She
    also leaves grandchildren, Mrs. Warren (Heather Patterson) Earl, and
    Eric Patterson, both of Charlotte, North Carolina; five Dykes
    grandchildren, Katy, Kelly, Bob, David, and Sally. They all live around
    here except for David who teaches at the University of New Orleans when
    it is not under water; great grandchildren are Ethan and Joel
    Patterson, Eric and Rebeccah's boys, and James R. (Jade) Dykes and Mrs.
    James (Jennifer Dykes) Stamper, Bob's kids.
    Great great grandchildren are Michael and Jacob Stamper, fondly known
    as the hell-imps, and Isabell Stamper, due for debut any moment and
    "the sooner the better," according to her mother, Jennifer. Isabell's
    iron willed great great grandmother held on for several days, waiting
    for Isabell, but finally had to turn loose. She also leaves God knows
    how many cousins and nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews
    and on and on, many close by and others scattered from hell to
    breakfast. When she died a library, with many volumes of Appalachian
    folk history, burned down, to paraphrase Alex Haley and we shall not
    see her like again, to paraphrase Shakespeare. Even individually, she
    and her daughter-in-law, Peggy Elaine Booker Dykes, were not always
    rational observers of Pat Summitt's Lady Vols. Together, they turned
    into a two-woman lynch mob. Given her sister, Marian's, joining them,
    males considered it safer out on the porch. Many believe that, even
    gone on, they are keeping a hot, beady, eye on tournament season. She
    went to Maryville College in an era when referees were more tolerant of
    physical confrontation. Girls playing for rival colleges were sometimes
    "maimed" as we would say today. Sixty-two years later, in answer to a
    timid and diffident question, she said, "We wanted to WIN!" At Alcoa,
    high school girls-faculty basketball game, the girls learned quickly
    that it might be safer to give "Mrs. Dykes-46-year-old-teacher" some
    room when she decided she wanted a rebound or a layup. No Alcoa girls
    were maimed. At the University of Tennessee, after her children were
    grown, she did a paper on Sir Thomas More. She got her "A" and one of
    those sheepskins, but was as emotionally involved with "The Perfect
    Knight" as she was with James Buchanan or James Knox Polk. Sir Thomas
    More and his virtues passed, unmourned, into that golden haze of misty
    memories. When the Chambers family moved to Tennessee Elsa's
    grandmother Collins and grandfather had established a general store on
    Harper Avenue in Maryville. In 1923, when she was 13 or 14, women won
    the franchise. She marched, with her grandmother Collins, to the polls
    and watched her grandmother vote. When she was 21 a Republican came and
    got her and took her to the polls where she voted Democrat. " I said, "
    'Thank you very much,' when I got out at home," she said. Memorial
    services-with Bible verses, music, singing(no dancing) laughing,
    crying, Baptist wine, casseroles, ham, biscuits, and unbaptized
    chicken, will be announced later, when the tribe can be rounded up.
    Donations may be sent to the American Cancer Society, 871 Weisgarber
    Road, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37909. Arrangements by Cremation Options,
    Inc. (865) 6WE-CARE (693-2273) www.cremationoptionsinc.com
    Published in the Knoxville News Sentinel on 3/5/2006.

    But wait....there's more! 

    Dykes, Elsa Chambers

    DYKES, ELSA CHAMBERS - memorial gathering, 875 MacArthur Road, Alcoa at
    1:00 p.m. Saturday, April 15. Come off Pellissippi Parkway where it
    dead ends at Clark's Grove and turn left on Old Knoxville Highway. Go
    about a mile-to Doug Hill's Produce Barn on the left and some brick
    bank on the right (where the Meadow Lark used to be) and slant right on
    MacArthur Road. Go one mile to intersection of Wright Road. Go another
    50 yards and it is an asphalt driveway on the right, going up the hill
    to the crab orchard stone house. Park in the field. Hide your beer in
    the car. No dancing. We are still Baptists. If you can't understand the
    directions, call Jim Dykes, arrangements by Cremation
    Options, Inc.

    Published in the Knoxville News Sentinel on 4/13/2006.

    I don't know who wrote these pieces, but I'd sure like that person to write my obituary.  e-thumbs

Comments (3)

  • That is precious!  And you have NO IDEA how expensive obituaries are....the family must have taken up a collection to pay for that one!
    Loved it! 

  • Wow!!! That obit must have cost about the same as the down payment for a house!! But really, what an interesting obituary.

  • Anne, I'm so glad you posted this. My mom passed away Friday night, and my brother has asked me to write the obit. It won't be quite that long, but it has given me the courage to try and bring her to "life" in it. Thanks for sharing!

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